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Exiled Tibetans sustain culture from afar

pitcher December 7, 1996
Web posted at: 11:10 p.m. EST

From Correspondent Mike Chinoy

NEW DELHI (CNN) -- Living in exile, a community of Tibetans in India have rebuilt a life centered around their traditional Buddhist culture.

The Tibetan community in New Delhi was established so long ago that the younger generation has never seen their native land. But their parents have taught them about the circumstances of their exile.

"We are not violent people, but the Chinese used guns to drive us out," said Tibetan refugee Samden Chudon.

Dali Lama

"They killed our mothers, fathers, grandparents. To save ourselves, we followed the Dalai Lama here. We like India, but we won't stop this fight because China has snatched away our traditions and our livelihood. We'll teach the children the same, make them understand."

More than 100,000 Tibetans fled their homeland after an anti- Chinese uprising.

The largest group followed their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to India, where they transplanted their culture.


They are largely dedicated to the premise that Tibet should be independent, a point they hoped to convey when Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited New Delhi recently.

"We want to show Jiang Zemin that, until Tibet is free, we Tibetans, under the leadership of the Dalai Lama, will keep fighting," said Lobsang Rapten of the Tibetan Local Assembly.

But, in fact, the Tibetan issue barely made the agenda at the Sino-Indian summit.


"Nothing will change, because this is a government to government visit. For me the only importance of this visit is that we'll once again demonstrate that Indian territory is in Chinese hands, that Tibet is not yet free," said George Fernandez of the Indian Parliamentarians Group on Tibet.

China isn't anxious to make an issue out of the Tibetans in exile -- as long as India doesn't encourage the issue of Tibetan independence.

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